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named her Desdemona, but we decided against it at the last
minute. But* Desdemona's a fine name, and many a man's
given his female children worse. But we decided against
it My wife decided me. She was lying there in bedó
she never really got up after she had the last one, she just
lingered until the Lord saw fit. She was lying there in bed,
and I took down the book and read her what Shakespeare
had written, trying to make up our minds. Then she pointed
something out to me, and I bowed to her perspicacity. She
said, 'Now doesn't the book say that man she ran off and
married was coloured?' I said, l Yes, in a way, you might say
he was, but he was a gentleman with a fine character, even if
he did have an overhasty disposition. And he was more
sinned against than sinning/ But, she said did I think it
was right to give our baby the name of a young woman who
had been connected with a man who was coloured, even if the
man wasn't exactly a negro? I agreed with her. I said we
ought to spare even the tenderest sensibility. So we named
the baby Isabella."

When people saw the Ball sisters walking down the street,
they said that you couldn't tell them apart, unless you looked
close. But they were different, Mr. Munn decided, very
different, despite their deceptive similarities of dress and
posture. Portia, the oldest, was already a widow. Her face
added to the quietness and gravity of all their faces a sadness,
but a sadness disciplined by the will that had marked the
firm lines about the mouth; and this sadness was mixed, at
moments when she was unaware of eyes upon her, with a
faint, though luminous, expectation. She was the most pious
of the sisters. She had occasionally said, Doctor MacDonald
reported to Mr. Munn, that at the end of her journey all
would be consumed in brightness. Meanwhile, she ran the
house, directing her sisters in their tasks. She wore a cord of
heavy keys at her waistband, the keys of cupboards and
pantries and smokehouses. She often sat alone with her
father. Viola, who was childless, read a great deal and wrote
voluminous letters. Her husband helped on the farm, and